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APSI Awards Advocate

Cheryl Plaster, Superintendent of Marion County Board of Developmental Disabilities (MCBDD), was recently named the recipient of the 2024 Ron Kozlowski Advocacy Award from Advocacy and Protective Services, Inc. (APSI) of Ohio. Plaster was honored as this year's recipient out of 16 qualified nominees. She was chosen based on the APSI's Ronald Kozlowski Advocacy Award principles, which recognizes a lifetime of advocacy for individuals with developmental disabilities (DD). Plaster was nominated by Jean Ann Hark, Service and Support Administrator at the Marion County Board of Developmental Disabilities.

Cheryl Plaster's recognition as the recipient of the Ron Kozlowski Advocacy Award from APSI of Ohio is a testament to her dedication and significant contributions toward advocating for individuals with developmental disabilities. Her tireless efforts over nearly three decades, marked by her distinct approach and unwavering commitment, have made a profound impact on the lives of many and serve as a beacon of inspiration for all of us.

Hark's nomination of Plaster speaks volumes about her unwavering advocacy and leadership within the developmental disabilities community. Plaster's proactive approach to seeking new opportunities and partnerships, a key driver of progress, demonstrates her dedication to enhancing the lives of those with developmental disabilities in various aspects, from transportation and housing to employment.

Hark said, "I thought of Cheryl immediately when I saw that APSI was seeking nominees. Cheryl has tirelessly advocated for those with developmental disabilities for almost 30 years." She added, "Cheryl is kind, compassionate, and has a heart for those in Marion County with developmental disabilities. She works tirelessly in our community to create opportunities for community members to interact directly with those with developmental disabilities. She knows that creating real interactions fosters long-lasting relationships and friendships. She also works hard to ensure that MCBDD is embedded in business conversations for job and volunteer opportunities."

Plaster's acceptance of the award reflects her belief in the fundamental rights of individuals with developmental disabilities to live with dignity, respect, and fulfillment. Her acknowledgment of their systemic barriers underscores the importance of continued advocacy efforts to ensure equal opportunities for all members of society.

Plaster's vision for amplifying the voices of individuals with developmental disabilities and empowering them to advocate for themselves is not just a commitment but a powerful call to action. She never stops promoting inclusivity and advocating for the rights of those with DD.

Plaster expressed her surprise, humility, and honor at being chosen for this recognition. She was quick to emphasize that her advocacy work is not a solitary endeavor, but a collective effort involving the staff at MCBDD, caregivers, families, providers, and the individuals they support. She also recognized the ongoing work that lies ahead to further this movement.

In 2010, the APSI Board of Trustees created the Ron Kozlowski Advocacy Award to recognize the agency's former executive director and his lifetime advocacy efforts for individuals with developmental disabilities.

The award is given annually to a person or entity outside of APSI who has demonstrated a lifetime in advocacy for individuals with developmental disabilities and has a long-term connection with advocacy efforts within the DD service system.


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